RTNDA to give news managers hands-on VJ experience during NAB Show training

April 8, 2009

Many newsrooms around the country are reacting to the changing economics of the TV business by adopting the one-person crew approach to some, if not all, of their newsgathering in the field, and RTNDA@NAB aims to give news managers a hands-on appreciation of what it takes to setup, shoot, report and edit alone.

The Radio-Television News Directors Association will put on three all-day seminars April 22-24 during which a dozen news managers each day will receive hands-on training on all of the skills required to report and edit as what’s being called by various news organizations a “backpack journalist,” “VJ,” “video journalist” or “one-man band.” The daily session training will be conducted by four leaders, including two from the Poynter Institute and one each from CBS News and KPNX-TV in Phoenix.

“Many managers inside newsrooms have never shot video, or if they have, it’s been a long time since they’ve used a camera,” said Al Tompkins, group leader of broadcast and online journalism at the Poynter Institute and one of the session leaders. There are two purposes for the sessions: to familiarize news managers requesting employees to do this type of newsgathering about what they are asking for and to give those managers the skills they need to do some employee coaching when they return to their newsroom, he said.

The agenda for the hand-on training is straightforward. First, the VJs in training will learn some camera basics with camcorders on loan from Canon, which will be followed by sending them on assignment for a two-hour shoot, Tompkins said. Upon returning, students will receive feedback on their raw video and be taught the basics of editing with Final Cut Pro. Then they will edit their stories and get feedback on the finished pieces. The best and most useful will be posted on the RTNDA Web site, according to Tompkins.

“When they’ve completed the day, they’ll have an appreciation of what they are asking their people to do, and they will have some hands-on skills” Tompkins said. “The will leave with a new appreciation for photojournalism and storytelling, and they will learn a vernacular that they can use to teach people how video works.”

While there are only 36 spots available for the hands-on training, no limit has been set on the number of people who can attend and observe, Tompkins said.

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